Grimes // Visions // February 21 // 4AD
We live in the internet age, the time when there are no borders between different genres and musical aesthetics. There aren’t many people left who would blindly listen to only one particular genre. Why limit yourself when all the music that was ever released is only few mouse clicks away. Ever since indie, the aesthetic rather than genre, came into prominence in the mid noughties more and more artists started to ignore the genre labels and make free flowing music that defied any boundaries. 2012 seems to be the year when internet based musicians and personalities explode. We had Lana Del Rey who delivered the most captivating success story of the young decade only to crash down painfully with her underwhelming LP. On the other scale of internet-minded musicians we have Grimes, Canadian Claire Boucher who is set to redefine what an internet era musician is all about.
Visions is her third album, although it’s the first one recorded with proper equipment as opposed to her previous LPs which were made with the help of Apple’s Garage Band app. While last year’s Darkbloom put her somewhere between psychedelic electronica and Lykke Li branch of helium pop, Visions is much more abstract than anything she has done before while retaining the qualities that made her good and improving on pretty much everything else. In Visions we get an album of music that sounds familiar and distant at the same time, weird and yet very approachable. Moments like Vovels = Space And Time bears echoes of 90s rnb doused in something that could only be described as euphoric ambient. Skin has traces of disco groove and Oblivion sounds like nintendo games glitching. And those is arguably album’s most approachable tracks.
Visions is consistent in its sound. Yet it seems undecided about where it’s going to go next which makes for some exciting listening experience. While the album is very minimalistic in its instrumental approach, the production makes it feel as full as some so called maximalist albums that came out last year to much acclaim. Other than beats, bass and synth, her voice is the medium that fills the entire record with eerie ambiance. Grimes spends the entire album crooning, yelping and moaning, more than often the sounds that come out of her mouth doesn’t form any concise lyrics or meanings, most of the time it’s impossible to understand what is she singing. That is one of the charms of the internet era where music in all languages stand as one. Like James Blake proved last year, you don’t need to make sense with your lyrics to deliver an emotional message with your voice.
Visions is everything that was expected from Grimes and more. One of the truly genreless albums to come out in recent memory. Pop album without hooks, big beats that enchant you rather than make you tap your feet, ambiance that is anything but still and slow moving. Visions is cold and out of touch with reality, it’s a place that a few will visit but even fewer are going to leave. For an artist who describes this LP as post-internet, Visions is an experiment in digital escapism that stands as Grimes’ Second Life.